7th Sea was first published by AEG in 1999, written by John Wick and Jennifer Wick. Set in an imaginary world, Théah, in its year 1668; it's a swashbuckling magical romp through something loosely based on Europe at a similar stage in its development.
Richly resourced with sourcebooks for the nations of Theah and for the myriad 'secret societies' that characters can join, the game system uses d10s - the number rolled depending on your skills and the appropriate 'trait' as selected by the GM, then of those rolled you keep the highest of a number determined by the value of your 'trait' - the so-called 'roll-and-keep' mechanic.
However, the main contribution to system mechanics is the 'Drama Die.' These are given by the GM whenever a player does something spectacular, dramatic or outright amusing... and may be 'spent' by that player to improve any die roll later on in the game. This helps to foster the dramatic swashbuckling style intended for gameplay, and rewards it in a more direct way than merely awarding experience points... the wise GM encourages this not only for enjoyment of the game but because that's the only way he gains drama dice for the NPCs to use!
As is the way of such things, a d20 ruleset was released during 2002, renamed Swashbuckling Adventures and using the same glorious setting. Further sourcebooks have followed enabling d20 players to explore the wonders of Théah's unique brands of magic, and presenting a series of "Heroes, Villains and Monsters" to share the world. Fortunately, for those who prefer it, the 'roll-and-keep' mechanic may still be used even with new materials, while the recent conversion books make it possible for d20 enthusiasts to enjoy everything that has been written for 7th Sea.
In 2016, John Wick Presents (the company of the original game designer) brought out a Second Edition, using an enhanced and improved version of the original 'Roll and Keep' mechanic.
Page last updated: 26 December 2016